Last Saturday, there’s nothing unusual when I took J and K to playground for a round of cycling exercise.
It’s as packed as any other weekend.
Kids were running around and screaming in joy.
Bubbles (blown by both children and parents) were carried away by evening breeze.
A few kites were dotting the sky.
And in the far corner of the park was an ice-cream vendor ringing his bell attracting attention.
It was just a normal, hot, dry eveningâ€¦
Until I laid my eyes on something rather unusual:
A mother and a toddler (about 3 years old). They looked perfectly normal except the clothes. Both of them were wearing long sleeve shirts and track pants. The mother even wore two layers.
Make no mistake. I am no fashion police.
I don’t generally care what others wear (unless they wear nothing of course). So to me what the mother and son (or daughter?) wore were okay except they seemed unsuitable for the hot weather.
I didn’t understand why they wore the way they did until I observed them closely.
In fact there’s another thing that bothered me to the core.
For every one step or two the toddler made, the mother followed closely behind.
Worried that the toddler was going to fall and hurt herself, the mother grabbed the shirt or the hand to prevent the imaginable (but never happened) falls.
The toddler didn’t care one bit and refused to be grabbed by her mom and kept walking. It was very obvious that nothing could stop the inquisitive mind to explore things around her.
Her quest (which was otherwise fun and exciting) was abruptly interrupted by her mother every 2-3 seconds.
If you were the child, how fun would that be to have a helicopter mother hovering over you every step you make?
I wouldn’t be, for sure. No one child would be.
The mother did this until one stage that she got so tired from the chasing that she wanted to stop the whole episode by carrying her and went home.
After about 5 minutes of watching, I lost them. The trip ended without any fun to the child, I suppose.
I know the mother was being protective over the child. Wearing long sleeve and long pants and what not.
But do you need to go to such an extent?
My guideline is simple: As long as my child is safe from any danger that might lead to death (eg: a car at the speed of Formula 1 car heading in my child’s direction or jumping down from a 10-story tree without a parachute), I will let him do anything he wants.
Just on the same day, I encouraged J to cycle at a faster speed for a fun ride. She was paranoid of high speed after a fall recently and as a result of the incident, she settled at a slow, wobbling speed. I encouraged her to go faster and try to enjoy herself without limiting the speed.
Also, I let her cycle in a place where it was full of people and cyclists so that she could learn to cycle in a “real environment” instead of protected areas like a basketball court – the place where she first learned cycling.
Don’t take your helicopter wherever you go. Stop the hovering. Your child can manage it. Let him have fun. Let him be wild. Let him scream to his heart’s content.
And remember: Don’t need to grab him after likeâ€¦ 2 steps and a half. If he falls, let it be and tell him to stand up on his own.
You can learn more about how to stop being a helicopter parent in my new book called “The Nonconformist’s Guide to Parenting.”
It’s time to put the machine away. Trust me, the child love it better that way. And it also spares you the stress and unnecessary worries.
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